Bonanza Gulch (El Paso Mountains)

The Bonanza Gulch Post Office

The Bonanza Gulch story is spotty, and filled with fabrications and myths.  Bonanza Gulch was once a bustling mining community. In December of 1893, the first good gold was struck, and the rush was on.

The second Bonanza Gulch rush was during the Great Depression. With so many men out of work, they turned to mining. Most of the historic buildings and dug outs that are still standing today are from this period or later. Again, a lot of historic documentation is unavailable.

One of the stories that is told is that after the white miners left the area, the Chinese miners moved in. Because of their smaller stature, they had the ability to dig smaller tunnels, and extract gold using short-handed shovels. Word spread among the white miners that the Chinese were extracting gold out of the played out mines. The white miners didn’t like this, they returned and sealed the tunnels with the Chinese still inside. Supposedly, prospectors in the 1970’s excavated some of the tunnels, discovering human bones with short-handled shovels.

The cabins and buildings that remain today are maintained and utilized by campers and off-road enthusiasts. The general rule is if you stay here, leave it in better condition than what you found it in.

 

The Bonanza Gulch Post Office

The Bonanza Gulch Post Office

 

THE POST OFFICE

The Post Office was originally built-in the 1930’s to serve the community that lived and worked at the mines in Bonanza Gulch and the surrounding area. In the mid 2000’s the original building was destroyed by vandals. What stands today was rebuilt in 2006 by the BLM.

 

The Sears Cabin

The Sears Cabin

 

THE SEARS CABIN

The Sears Cabin, one of the newest structures in Bonanza Gulch was built in 1958. It received it’s name because the cabin was built out of crates from a Sears Department Store.

 

HATFIELD CAMP

The Hatfield Camp is located on the back side of Bonanza Gulch. Charles Hatfield, a self-proclaimed rain maker built his camp here in the early 1900’s. Hatfield built a dam against the hillside, it was destroyed by a powerful storm in 1916. Two stories surround the dam and Hatfield’s rain making abilities. The first is that he built the dam below a number of rich claims with the hopes that the water would wash floating surface gold on to his claim. The second is that he had constructed the dam to collect water to sell to other miners.

The Hatfield Camp now sits in ruin, all the structures have collapsed and debris piles are all that remain. A number of vertical shafts dot the camp site.

 

LUNDQUIST CABIN (JONIE-JACK)

The Lundquist Cabin was built the 1940’s or 1950’s by a Swedish couple utilizing native boulders, and the pouring of a cement floor. The claim and cabin remained active until the 1980’s when the last claim owner let it go. The cabin is more well known today at the Jonie-Jack Cabin, named after the owners in the late 1960’s.

TAIT – JOHNSON CABIN

Tom Tait founded the The Broken Spade claim in the 1930’s, he would later partner with Johnson. The current cabin is not the original cabin, the original cabin sat in front of the location of today’s rebuilt cabin.

 

 
Interested in visiting this site?

BOOK OPTION: Bonanza Gulch is featured in Secret Places in the Mojave Desert Vol. III. Detailed maps, and GPS coordinates are included.  Order your copy now.
 

About the author

Jim Mattern

Jim is a scapegoat for the NPS, an author, adventurer, photographer, radio personality, guide, and location scout. His interests lie in Native American and cultural sites, ghost towns, mines, and natural wonders in the American Deserts.

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